Often, when I’ve heard a celebrity say, “I love you all,” I’d think, “How is that possible? You’ve never even met me.”
But their saying so always gave me a warm feeling, a little boost. So I’ve often written the same, “I love you all,” in my mailings or blog posts.
Today I read a little message that makes me even more confident about telling you, whether we’ve met or not, I love you.
It’s this: If someone who never met you can hate you for your race, or sexuality, or politics, or whatever reason, if they can hate you sight unseen, then surely you and I can love each other sight unseen.
We’re all in this together. And if doing what we can to make one another’s lives better, if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
These #charactercreationchallenge memories have been popping up on my Facebook timeline this month. And today I suddenly remembered that posting them was a slow, painful climb back from three months of depression so severe that for the first time in my career I couldn’t write at all.
That seems like forever ago. So much has been published since.
The Character Creation Challenge posts that January three years ago led to a Zine Quest project in February that year for D6xD6 Dungeons, followed since by the Bauner Coast campaign setting, several new D6xD6 6-pagers, an anthology of D13 adventures, and 11 Bookmark No HP RPG titles. Along with some YouTube solo play videos and quite a few in-depth blog posts on social subjects.
Next month’s Zine Quest will be a D6xD6 2e. This month I may yet get a Make 100 KS project for a Battle Bookmark in progress. While I continue to chip away at a 21-card adventure deck for the bookmark product line, promised to last year’s Make 100 backers. There’s also a D6xD6 Dungeons Solo book already written that just needs a developmental pass.
So, three months in the abyss, a painful climb out, and three years of productivity since. Three years filled with fun with other gamers and overall joy.
Clinical anxiety and depression will always dog my heels; that’s just the nature of brain chemistry. But the old dog is learning new tricks of self-awareness ala Thomas Covenant, together with balancing some new meds.
And practicing my craft. Writers write. Game designers design. Those things are my connection to the world, and I’m grateful for every single one of you reading these words. For every person who has encouraged that work in whatever way.
Thank you for three years of hope. I wish you the very same, now and in the future.
I haven’t posted much about my mental health journey of late. Mainly because for the time being it’s been more about observing and mulling than speaking.
But here’s a nutshell update: (1) a med change from an antidepressant that was also a stimulant (bad for anxiety); and (2) the realization that I’ve depended too much on employer/employee relationship for a gauge of success. The fact is, my work speaks for itself, not a company’s pay scale or willingness to share its profits.
It doesn’t take much of a look at human history to recognize the typically unhealthy relationship between business and its employees, companies and their “human resources,” owners and their hirelings, bosses and their workers. (The very word “boss” leaves a bad taste in our mouths: hence “bossy.”)
My work speaks for itself. I’ve poured heart and soul into it all, never stinting. Why the hell I’ve craved a pat on the head from whoever signed the paycheck is a shame.
In part, this change in perspective was jostled by a citation from Ursula K. Le Guin, herself paraphrasing J.R.R Tolkein, concerning escapism and the “real world.”
To quote Tolkein’s actual words, “I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which ‘Escape’ is now so often used: a tone for which the uses of the word outside literary criticism give no warrant at all. … Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?”
And Le Guin’s continuation, “If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape? The moneylenders, the knownothings, the authoritarians have us all in prison; if we value the freedom of the mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can.”
Part of my imprisonment has been an Evangelical upbringing that castigated “America’s sinful preoccupation with fun.” Church and State so often work hand in hand to support one another in this regard. And State itself is, to quote John Dewey, “the shadow cast on society by big business.”
I believe that in the long run, an Internet full of art and achievement will change that. In part, my own escapism has lately been the wealth of art, music, and laughter I find online. The amazing things we “common folk” share with one another. That, and the open source movements that sidestep business profits simply to help one another. I believe that these will outpace and outlast the tyrants and warmongers raining destruction down upon us to maintain the status quo.
In any case, I feel a little freer today than I have before. Here’s wishing the same for you.
[P.S. My misuse of Wordsworth’s words in my title is intentional. I’d say “Nuns fret not” foreshadows his hidebound future as Poet Laureate.]